Legalising euthanasia deceives society into believing that death is the answer for “all kinds of” suffering, the Irish Parliament has been told.
Speaking to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Assisted Dying, Dr Theo Boer from the Netherlands explained that he used to support his country’s euthanasia law before becoming “increasingly critical” after witnessing it in practice.
The Committee will continue to hold public meetings before reporting to both the Dáil and the Seanad next spring.
Dr Boer warned that once euthanasia is introduced for those deemed terminally ill, the list of eligible people expands as other groups claim it is ‘unjust’ not to be included.
He said there has been a shift in requests for euthanasia in the Netherlands, away from people fearing pain to those “who fear years or decades of loneliness, alienation and care dependency”.
“The legalisation of euthanasia”, he said, has “turned the whole landscape of dying, including our view of illness, suffering, ageing and care dependence, upside down.”
Earlier this year, the Dutch Government agreed to expand its Euthanasia Act to allow children of all ages to be euthanised under the law.
In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia, including for children older than twelve. With parental consent, the law has applied to babies before their first birthday since 2005.
Deaths from euthanasia rose by nearly 14 per cent in the country in 2022, totalling 8,720 people killed.